• Premier League

Wenger: Ankle problem won't hamper Wilshere's career

ESPN staff
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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has dismissed suggestions that Jack Wilshere's ankle problem could hamper his long-term career, but he admits he will 'need to be managed' ahead of next summer's World Cup.

Wilshere's ongoing fitness woes have led to suggestions that the 21-year-old may struggle to fulfil his potential over an extended career, yet the Arsenal boss has stressed he has no fears for the future of his starlet after undergoing ankle surgery last summer.

"I have no concern [about his future] and have been told by the medical people there is no long term issue," stated Wenger. "I am told he is still recovering from the ankle inflammation. It is hard [for him], but we have 25 players in the squad as we can deal with that problem. We play 60 games per year and he certainly will have to be managed.

"Unless his pains go completely, then he will be used when needed. If there is an alert on his ankles, we will take advice from the medical department and use him when he can really be used."

Wenger went on to reject suggestions that England boss Roy Hodgson used Wilshere recklessly in the recent internationals against Chile and Germany, as he dismissed reports that his midfielder has returned to Arsenal with a fresh injury.

"There is no problem between the FA and Arsenal Football Club," he stressed. "I don't know where that idea comes from. He was available for England, they used him like they wanted. If he had played two full games, I would have been perfectly happy. There was no restriction there at all. He is not injured now."

Wilshere's ongoing fitness worries are compensated by the return to fitness of Theo Walcott ahead of Saturday's clash with third placed Southampton, while he dismissed reports that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has suffered a setback in his bid to return to fitness.

"He is still one month from competition and there has been no setback," added Wenger. "The New Year is reasonable target for him."

Meanwhile, Wenger confirmed that Arsenal have opened talks with defender Per Mertesacker over a new contract, with the Germany defender's current deal set to expire in the summer of 2015.

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